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Vip’s Corner: Settling In

06.30.11 – Why hello there. I’m Jeff, and I’m interning this summer at Andretti Autosport. I can’t say I’m one for drawn-out introductions, so I’ll just dive right into the thick of things.

Arriving in Indianapolis, I promptly did all the normal things one might do to get settled: grocery shopping, unpacking, spending a day in Ohio—you know, the standard stuff. My first day at work proved to be just as normal. After arriving and meeting J-F [Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Andretti Autosport], I was given a rundown of what my summer was going look like, as well as informed of my immediate departure for Texas with the hospitality crew. As J-F showed me around the shop, introducing me to everyone, he seemed to find it incredibly amusing that I was road tripping just three hours after I started my first day. I, on the other hand, was more concerned if my food would keep in the fridge.

As with most interns (I’m assuming) a 15-hour truck ride on your first day must be standard practice, so I showed up and made the long haul out to Texas without question. Arriving in Texas Tuesday night, and knowing we were leaving at 6 a.m. to begin the setup, I proceeded to stay up until 1 a.m. Though I guess it’s only midnight Central time, so that’s better right? Regardless, I was a little tired the next day.

Setting up the hospitality tents wasn’t actually all that bad, and I might go as far as to say it would’ve been just fine, but of course it was 100 degrees out which definitely added a certain ‘je ne c’est quoi’ to the whole experience. Nevertheless, we carried on, and 9 hours and 14 Deja Blue water bottles later we were headed back to the hotel, tents in place. Now the nice thing about getting up at 6 a.m. is that 9 hours later puts you at 3 in the afternoon, which (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) is a perfectly acceptable time to call it a night.

The next few days at the track were spent finishing the setup of tables and chairs, wiping stuff down numerous times, and then waiting for something to get dirty again so it could be wiped down. Other than that, being at the track for practices and qualifying was something I’d never done before which definitely added a new aspect to the racing. Now every car had a history behind it before the race, how they did in practices, how they did in qualifying, what changes they made. This was definitely an experience you can’t get watching from home, where they only broadcast the races, and maybe qualifying if they’re feeling nice.

I also learned that while night races can be fun to watch, they’re brutal on hospitality. Closing at midnight with at least four hours left of work provided a daunting task., I’d say when you lay down on asphalt at 4:30 in the morning and find it oddly comfortable, you know it’s probably getting to be that time of night. However all of the work paid off, as I rode back to Indy in style, in the motor coach, where I swiftly caught up on my sleep. Of course I was rudely awakened by a blown tire, but oh well, we have seven others right? I’m pretty sure that’s how that works.

Upon returning to the shop, I found my allotted cube just as barren as I’d left it. Oddly in the three hours I’d spent in it the week before I hadn’t had time to really make it feel like home. However, I wouldn’t have to be there long as I was leaving the following day for Milwaukee, which proved to be a similar drive and setup, only shorter and cooler.

I was then introduced to my new job, the greeter. Friday and Saturday of the race weekend was spent in a chair, waiting for guests to show up so I could scour a list for their names as they stood awkwardly waiting. I would then reward them with an Andretti Autosport limited edition wristband for their patience. It was a swell deal.

Returning from Milwaukee I found I had earned myself a new nickname among the client services lot. I would forever be referred to as “Vip.” When I asked how I came to earn such a nickname, I was given the answer “well this just a noise we sometimes make, and decided it should be someone’s nickname”. I’m guessing they actually all had just forgotten my real name. This would also prove to be somewhat confusing when we were expecting important guests…

So that’s wrapped up my time here so far. I can only imagine that the upcoming weeks will prove to be just as eventful as my past few.

Until next time,
Jeff

2 Responses to “Vip’s Corner: Settling In”

  1. PiratemomKFJ says:

    Would love to hear about Iowa race. Keep posting, it is nice to hear your perspective. Sounds like a crazy livelihood, but exciting!

  2. Cathy says:

    Sounds like you re going to have a great summer! Keep blogging! Your first entry was great! It’s great to get a backstage view, so to speak, of race weekends.

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